Everything You Need to Know About Zero-Click SEO

  • Up to 50% of searches now end on the SERP, without a “click through” to any of the featured pages.
  • Zero-click search reflect’s Google’s shift toward a strategy of answering users’ queries directly on the SERPs, reducing the need for users to click through to a website.
  • In a zero-click world, click-through-rates (CTR) are no longer the best measure of a page’s value to users.
  • Digital marketers can take advantage of zero-click search by optimizing pages for Featured Snippets and other types of quick answers.

Most business owners have at least a basic idea of how SEO works by now. Someone types something into Google and, if your SEO is good enough, you appear in a prominent location on the search results page. If you offer what they want, the searcher clicks through to your awesome website and enters the sales funnel. But what if they don’t click your site or in fact any site at all? 

A slow change has been happening in how search results are displayed. Today, more than 50% of Google searches don’t end with a click, which basically means that the searcher found what they were looking for without having to click further: in other words, a zero-click search. For the business owner, that means no visit to their website and no stepping into their optimized funnel. Google, previously the middleman between searcher and content provider, is becoming the end-point for all of it.

Does this spell the end for SEO? Are all websites going to be swallowed up by the Google behemoth? Are there any ways to still get value out of search? Well “no,” “no,” and “quite a few actually” are your answers there, but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s take a look at what a zero-click search actually is to start us off on the same page.

What is a Zero-Click Search?

As mentioned briefly above, a zero-click search is when someone looks for something on Google but never ventures beyond the search results page. Some obvious examples that you’re probably well used to would be when you ask questions like:

  • What time is it in Indianapolis?
  • What level is the Dow Jones at?
  • What will the weather be like tomorrow?
  • How tall is Anne Hathaway?

Obviously no one ever types out a full question anymore, but you get the picture: ask a simple question and you get a simple answer, and Google displays it prominently in a box at the top of the page. This box, in fancy SEO terminology, is known as a Featured Snippet. This might seem simple and logical, but there was once a time (like three years ago) when you would actually have to click through to a website to find out that info, meaning arguments with friends over which actor is taller took at least 30 seconds longer to solve.

However, featured snippets are no longer just about answering short questions with basic facts. They also now answer relatively more complex questions, like:

  • How to ripen an avocado?
  • Compare the iPhone 11 vs Samsung s20
  • What are the symptoms of heat stroke?
  • What’s the best truck for towing?

So, for a vast number of searches, Google wants to answer the question right at the top of the page, leading to a Zero-Click Search. The searcher is happy, so Google is happy. Not just that, but home speakers, when asked to answer a question, will read out the rich feature, so even weirdly realistic bots that live in your house are happy. 

But what about website owners? Fewer people are visiting them, with everyone just getting what they need from the search results and never buying anything. Is there a way for them to be happy? Well, we’re glad you asked, because yes, there’s actually a lot that businesses can do to embrace Zero-Click Searches and get them working in their favor. 

6 Ways to Get Zero-Click Search Working for You

1. Prove you’re a thought leader by answering questions.

You know your business better than anyone, right? So why not share the love (and the knowledge) by answering the most common questions that people ask of your trade. In the world of zero-click SEO, providing clear and useful answers on the topics you know well will not only position you right at the top of that Google search results page but also demonstrate your authority and experience in your field. It may not be as good as good old-fashioned clicks, but it’s more than your competitors will have.

2. Reconsider your metrics.

One of the most important statistics for the success of a business’ site is its click-through rate (CTR). This identifies how often people who are searching for a specific keyword decide that your page offers what they are looking for and click through to visit it. This may not actually be the best way of measuring success in a zero-click context, however, as there can be a considerable difference between raw search volume and a search that actually resulted in a click.

For example, one page could be getting 100% of all actual clicks, but if 99% of the volume is zero-click, that will result in a 1% CTR. So, you might think it’s doing terribly and change the page or scrap it, even though it’s the best performing page for that keyword.

It also means that when identifying keywords, it’s important to consider those which have a high Click Per Search value, not just those with a big raw search volume, as they might not actually be that valuable.

3. Structure content with a zero-click focus.

The best way to make sure you’re getting all the exposure that the featured snippet offers is to structure your content in a way that Google likes to display it. If you look through a few examples or just take note of them when they pop up, you’ll notice some trends to follow for your own content.

  • Speak like an encyclopedia: While it’s great to have an insightful opinion on something, when Google takes content for its snippet, it wants it to be as fact-based as possible. Think less: “I absolutely love turquoise and I think it really goes with my eyes,” and more: “Turquoise is a color. It pairs well with brown eyes.”
  • Use lists or steps: Humans really enjoy lists, so Google really enjoys using them. For your content, this means that anything featuring a “Reasons why/Tips for/Signs that” section should use lists, either numbered or in bullets. The same goes for recipes or how-to guides: list the steps the user needs to take and watch Google transmit them to the Zero-Search world.
  • Optimize your images: Making sure the alt text of an image is related to the query you’re aiming to answer increases chances of being chosen for the Featured Snippet.

4. Offer value to searchers beyond the basics.

Maybe it used to be enough to just provide numbers and statistics about your products or services, but that just won’t cut it anymore. To get value from your online presence, you have to offer value to your potential visitors. Let them know that you’re not just looking to copy and paste some info you’ve got from elsewhere but that you’re actually providing something new and unique. In other words, don’t tell them that the 49ers lost the Super Bowl, tell them WHY the 49ers lost the Super Bowl.

If you’re focusing on content that can’t be summed up in 50 words and you don’t want competition from Featured Snippets that will undercut your offering, you can use tools like Serpstat to find keywords to focus on that don’t use them (or vice versa).

5. Consider what “people also ask.”

Not featured in the Featured Snippet? No problem, because Google also uses a handy “People Also Ask” tool on many search results pages. So, even if you don’t end up getting the top Featured Snippet position, you can still get traction for answering people’s other queries around the same topic. What’s more, this section also gives you ideas of related searches that you can frame other content around in order to be the zero-click result for those queries.

6. Boost buyer intent.

The age of digital marketing metrics means that marketing shifted its focus from its traditional roles of increasing exposure and boosting buyer intent. Nowadays people want hard facts that can be backed up by metrics. Don’t get us wrong – we absolutely love the graphs, bar charts, and percentages we can use to track progress and success. Those little numbers can bring so much joy to SEO geeks. 

But at the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom line, and making someone more likely to buy a product is still what marketing should be doing. In this sense, having fewer clicks is not necessarily the end of the world. With zero-click searches, tire-kickers get to have a quick glance at what’s out there, but people who are further along in their purchasing journey are still going to click through to a site – except now searches that result in actual clicks are probably even better leads.

The world of search (that is, Google) is evolving towards the not-entirely-unexpected situation where the search engine tries to answer as many queries as possible, without feeling much need to redirect people to other businesses’ websites. While it’s still only 50% of searches, zero-click SEO is something that needs to be taken into consideration when planning how to grow your business online. Google still relies on the information fed by websites and experts such as yourself, so there are plenty of opportunities to increase awareness of your business and establish yourself as a go-to authority on your subject matter. 

We believe in you and we’re also here to help with any questions you might have about our favorite subject matter. If you want to find out more about getting the most out of zero-click SEO or want to chat about any other aspect of your online presence, feel free to get in touch with us here.

Author avatar
Mauricio Moreno
Mauricio has close to 20 years of digital experience and a core foundation in the technical side of SEO. He’s led and executed strategy both in-house and on the agency side and enjoys defining successful strategies for our clients.
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